NHL free-agent winners losers Who got th

By Harry Sandhu February 23, 2022

Ron Hextall nailed it.

“Sometimes, this day, you make some of the poorest decisions you can make,” the Flyers general manager told reporters at the end of the first day of free agency.

MORE: Day 1 analysis | Blues sign Stastny | Draft aftermath

Hextall hadn’t done anything particularly questionable in the immediate run-up. Moving Scott Hartnell for R.J. Umberger is in the past by, like, a week or whatever. We move on.

His overall point stands, though adding big pieces in free agency is, in a lot of Hardy Nickerson Jersey ways, a sucker’s bet. When lots of people are bidding on a specific thing, like a hockey player, odds are somebody overvalues it and, thusly, overpays. Kent Wilson talked about The Winner’s Curse as it applies to the NHL a little more in depth last year.

So, the contracts parceled out early in the day great players! big prizes! often look bad down the road. Even with the high-end forward market somewhere short of its craziest point, more than $500 million was spent in about nine hours Tuesday. You can bet a bunch of it was wasted.

That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes, good players are worth the money.

With that in mind, some winners and losers from Day 1:


Stars: The Stars aren’t just exciting; they’re good. Adding center Jason Spezza to play behind Tyler Seguin (and sending only Alex Chia son back to Ottawa off the NHL roster) allows Dallas to hang in a Western Conference that isincreasingly defined by its center-stocked elites.

“(I) didn’t want to give up too many a sets if I didn’t have to for the wrong type of player,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “We did give up a lot of a sets in this trade, but we’re getting a great player in return.”

If Spezza doesn’t work out, Nill can flip him at the deadline as a rental. If he does work out, Dallas could have something special on its hands; Seguin, Spezza, Jamie Benn, Valeri Nichushkin that’s high-end offensive talent capable of controlling the puck, generating goals and winning games. Dallas’ biggest problem last season was an overreliance on Benn and Seguin. Spezza’s biggest problem was going up against top competition. Voila.

Whoops, Ales Hemsky. Almost forgot about him. At three years and $12 million, he’s closer to a steal than an overpayment. He played well on Spezza’s wing after the Senators acquired him from the Oilers. No reason to think that won’t continue. Factor in a third line capable of eating some tough minutes, and there’s a ton Preston Brown Jersey to like about Dallas.

Oilers:It’s weird to feel good about a set of moves from the Oilers’ front office, but here we are. Giving five years and $20 million to Benoit Pouliot is going to get slammed in some circles, and that’s understandable. He had the look of a first-round bust not all that long ago. Still, he’s become a big, physical, reliable puck-po se sion player who scored 15 goals last season on the Rangers’third line. Edmonton needs guys like that.

“He’s gone from a bit of an enigma to a guy whose calling card is his work ethic,” GM Craig MacTavish said.

Defenseman Mark Fayne ($14.5 million, four years) is another solid addition. He may have benefited from playing with Andy Greene in New Jersey, but he’s effectively kept the puck away from opponents for several years. He won’t provide much offense, but he’s a solid player all the same and cheaper than Nikita Nikitin. This is about Edmonton’s Tuesday, though.

Lightning: Here’s a way to get better: Add depth from the Eastern Conference champions.

First, Tampa signed defenseman Anton Stralman for five years and $4.5 million. He should’ve played on New York’s top defensive pair, and the Rangers should’ve re-signed him. That’s another i sue, though. Now, Tampa can roll out a pretty impre sive trio of defensive pairings. Some combo of Victor Hedman, Jason Garrison, Stralman, Matt Carle and Radko Gudas sounds pretty solid.

Brian Boyle also left New York for Tampa. Worst-case scenario is that he’s a $2 million fourth-line forward and penalty-killer. That’s decent enough. Boyle, though, was looking for an expanded role, and he’ll likely get that shot.

Penguins:Jim Rutherford had needs, and he filled them. Almost.

First, Pittsburgh needed a defenseman to take the place of Matt Niskanen, who was guaranteed to sign for huge money elsewhere. Enter Christian Ehrhoff, bought out last week by Buffalo because of a contract that, thanks to a retroactive penalty applied to it, was set to become toxic had it stayed on the books. Not his fault he’s still good. He’s also crazy-cheap a $4 million, one-year deal for a player of his caliber is rare. Setting up another big deal and chasing a Cup has its perks.

Thomas Grei s is Alex Redmond Jersey a good backup goaltender. Marcel Goc is a good fourth-line center. Blake Comeau provides some measure of bottom-six depth. Now Rutherford, no matter what he says, is probably another second- or third-line forward away from managing to reshape Pittsburgh’s top-heavy roster and girding himself against Niskanen’s exist. Not bad.

Blackhawks:They signed Brad Richards for one year and $2 million. That’s more than enough. Richards isn’t the player he was five years ago, but at that price, and as Chicago’s desperately needed new second-line center, he fits.

Kings: They wisely took care of Marian Gaborik last week, then basically stayed out. They’re the champs for a reason.

Deryk Engelland:Nearly $9 million for a guy who spent nearly a decade in the minors, then a few years as a fringe defenseman (and sometimes winger, and always puncher) in Pittsburgh? Good for Engelland. Maybe not for the Flames, but good for Engelland.

Maple Leafs:It couldn’t have been easy for them to pa s on Dave Bolland, but they did. Josh Gorges turning them down was a ble sing in disguise, too. So despite their best efforts, here they are.


Capitals:At seven years and $40.25 million, Niskanen’s contract is lengthy and expensive. It’s also not all that bad, and certainly not surprising; he’s been solid for several years based on puck-po se sion stats and the sort of competition he faced. He was fortunate to see his offensive output increase this season, thanks to a relatively high shooting percentage and some extra power-play time, but that only underscores what he does well. He’s a legitimate second-pairing defenseman on his average days.

The better you play in previous years, expectations go up,” Niskanen said. “The larger the money, the expectations go up. I think Im ready for that challenge. I played top-four minutes about 80 percent of the year last year.”

Will he be worth every dime of his deal with the Caps? Maybe not. Will he keep on scoring 46 points a year? Probably not. But he’s not the reason for Washington’s inclusion here.

Brooks Orpik’s deal is a lot tougher to defend.Washington signed him for five years and $27 million. As good a player as Orpik has been, that’s too much money and too much term for a 33-year-old defenseman whose teammates generally fared better when they played away from him. He’s still tough, a good leader and decent enough for now, but that only goes so far and not for five years and $27 million.

Senators: Chia son and a handful of decent prospects for Spezza, who wanted out, isn’t a terrible return. Signing Milan Michalek for three years and $12 million isn’t bad, either. He’s still a useful player when he’s healthy. Still, and maybe it’s because of that pesky ol'”internal budget,” the Sens don’t feel right. They’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it’s not conducive to winning.

Red Wings: Winding up with Kyle Quincey (two years, $8.5 million) after chasing Niskanen, Stralman, Ehrhoff and Dan Boyle is settling. Let’s put it that way. Detroit is a great organization, but at some point, unrestricted free agents are going to have to start signing there again.

Rangers: They lost Stralman A J Green Jersey and gave a shorter-term deal with an identical cap hit to Dan Boyle, who’s older and not as good. They let Pouliot and Brian Boyle walk at reasonable prices, too. Dom Moore is a useful player, but he’s still a fourth-line center. New York made it to the Stanley Cup Finallargely because of its depth, and that took a major hit on Tuesday. It’s tough to figure out why.

Panthers: Bolland is a third-line center. He should not get a deal worthmore than $5 million annually for five years. Full stop. Shawn Thornton, good a guy as many say he is, is a 37-year-old fighter. He should not make $1.2 million annually for two years. Full stop. Those deals are bad enough to overshadow a decent one with forward Ju si Jokinen, who’s capable of totaling 50 points and driving play even without Evgeni Malkin as his center. There are worse backups than Al Montoya, too it’s not his fault.

The Eastern Conference:All this, and Jarome Iginla left Boston for Colorado, too. Not a good day for the East as a whole.